Activists say Lynas plant will affect Malaysia polls Radio Australia 4 June 2012, In Malaysia, residents opposing an Australian rare earth processing plant say the issue will affect the country’s forthcoming election and has the potential to influence the outcome in four marginal seats. Residents of Kuantan in Malaysia’s east have long opposed the plant which has been built at a cost of $800 million by Australia’s Lynas Corporation.
The plant is ready to begin processing rare earth minerals brought in
from Western Australia’s Mount Weld mine but still needs final
approval from the government.
The company says the plant is safe but residents still fear the effect
of low level radiation on the surrounding environment…..
ANDANSURA RABU: It’s still on a trial basis in Lynas here, because
they don’t have any other plant in the world. This is the only plant
they have here. And at the same time they will use all the people here
as their analysis, as their lab rats…..
Recently, fear of environmental contamination and health effects
spilled over into a rally attended by thousands said to be the largest
environmental protest in Malaysia’s history.
Community members accuse Australia of using Malaysia as a dumping
ground, while the company says its reasons for setting up here are
ANDANSURA RABU: Of course I will take it as Lynas using Gebeng and
Malaysia as dumping place…… ZOE DANIEL: An election is expected at
any moment in Malaysia, and it’s likely to be the most closely
contested in the country’s history.
The controversy over the plant is expected to affect four marginal
seats in the area. Two are already opposition held, two more are
expected to swing based on the environmental and health concerns of
the community and their lack of trust in Lynas and the government.
At such an advanced stage it seems implausible that the government
will refuse to allow the plant to operate.
But for political reasons the final go ahead may be delayed until
after the election.